Do you remember when sunscreen and comfy shoes were the most needed items to remember for a trip to Walt Disney World? Your phone, especially the My Disney Experience app, has become increasingly critical as the corporation shifts toward more technologically oriented planning tools.
After reopening during the outbreak, Disney Parks eliminated FastPass. This long-running service allowed people to reserve certain times to experience various attractions and replaced it with good old-fashioned standby lineups. Disney World soon revealed a new ride-time reservation system, and FastPass was discontinued.
Disney Genie serves as a personal concierge by integrating with the Disney Parks’ preexisting mobile apps to provide individualized suggestions for activities and attractions. Disney Genie+ is a premium service that adds $15 per person each day to the price of already expensive theme park admission. Like the now-defunct FastPass, Genie+ lets visitors reserve “Lightning Lane” access to popular attractions at the time of their visit.
The new approach runs on a day-of basis, unlike FastPass’s 60-day prior reserving window for attractions. Bookings for attractions can start at 7:00 AM on the day of your visit and every two hours after that, or immediately upon scanning into the currently active attraction. Some popular attractions aren’t included in the pass and require an extra per-visit price of around $8 to $12.
Although the approach was designed to make planning more straightforward and allow for more spontaneity, this has not been the case in actual use. The system has been troubled by challenges in its brief history, including app malfunctions, attraction breakdowns, and low availability.
While the old free method gave guests admission to three attractions in advance and allowed them to add several more on the day of their visit, the new premium service says consumers ought to be able to enjoy only two or three attractions every day using the service.
A lawyer who has been to Walt Disney World more than a dozen times says she wasn’t worried about the new Genie+ system at first. To summarize, “I had no problem with them monetizing the old FastPass system, but I have a problem with them charging you for a system that gives less value than the free system that used to exist.”
Despite being well-informed about the new system before her trip, she encountered numerous problems using Disney Genie+.
According to her, “what I discovered was that the process has tremendous lag time,” which ultimately resulted in her being unable to obtain tickets for the rides she wanted to experience.
“Even though I was on vacation, I never got to sleep later than 7:00 AM. The internet would drop out in the parks; therefore, when it was time to get the next pass, I had to refresh the app repeatedly, delaying my next reservation and wasting more time while on vacation.”
Her group had to wait until the evening of one day to use Disney Genie+ to reserve attractions. She waited in guest services for hours, but no one could help her. It was the app; they couldn’t do anything about it.
Once a regular at Disney theme parks, that experience “has made me reconsider ever returning to the parks,” she says.
Although you can pay for the service in advance, you can book no attractions before the day of your arrival, which can cause unnecessary stress for parents or guests who want to make an organized program for their holiday.
Disney Genie+ is counter to the Walt Disney World dining system, which permits 60-day advanced bookings. To add insult to injury, travelers must visit guest relations to avoid incurring $10 per person in no-show meal fees if the time slot for a Disney Genie+-booked attraction coincides with a previously scheduled eating reservation.
Disney Genie+ reservations, virtual wait times, and à la carte ticketing all add complexity to the day-of preparations that people must make. Disney has steadfastly persisted with the system, making several adjustments in its brief existence despite widespread criticism and opposition.
Sadly, Walt Disney World has altered its policies once again for the worse. The company said on May 18 that pre-purchasing of the premium service would be discontinued, emphasizing the phrase “subject to availability.”
For the forward-thinking parent, what does this imply? Disney Genie+ can be purchased starting at 12:00 AM (midnight) on the day of your visit. The responsible planner will have to make the purchase late at night to secure the service and prevent it from selling out.
The next step in their duties will come a few hours later when they must be ready for the reservation window to open at 7:00 AM and start making reservations for attractions. For the time being, the Genie service at Disneyland Resort has not been updated to reflect these changes.
Many people are turning to professional travel planners for assistance to make the most of their future Disney trips. An expert travel agent revealed that her business has gone to the extent of writing comprehensive how-to guides for Disney Genie+.
According to her clientele, “this has not been a beneficial experience overall…I have had maybe 10 customers reserve it, and they have all been dissatisfied. People are upset that FastPasses, which used to be free, now cost money and that you can’t reserve tickets to attractions until 7 AM on the day of your visit.”
Theme parks have long offered paid line access services. The Express Pass program has been used at Universal Orlando Resort for quite some time. It permits fast-track entry to the vast majority of the parks’ attractions. Although it is more expensive (beginning at $79.99) than Disney World’s new alternative, it has long been lauded for its user-friendliness.
Almost all of Universal’s most popular attractions are included in the park’s single, all-inclusive fee. Visitors do not need to reserve certain times to use the express line at their convenience. In addition, the service is provided at no cost to visitors of the Premium Resorts at Universal Orlando.
My familiarity with Genie+, quirks and all, comes from frequent visits to Disney theme parks. If you’re planning a trip to Disney World but are nervous about the recent changes, I’ve compiled some tips for making the most of your time there.
- You should use one device for reserving regular Disney Genie+ attractions when the booking window opens at 7:00 AM. In contrast, you should use another for booking popular but individually priced attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Avatar: Flight of Passage.
- It is recommended to queue rides for the next park when the 7 AM booking window begins and use backup waits for the first park if you intend to park hop (visit one Walt Disney World park in the morning and another in the afternoon or evening). Setting the alarm to go off every two hours can be a good idea to ensure you make the most of booked times.
- If you want Disney Genie+ before the summer rush, you’ll have to sacrifice sleep to ensure you get it at midnight.
- A well-known bug in the app is that customers will sometimes be booked for a later time slot after selecting an available a la carte attraction time. The personnel at the guest services facilities (designated by blue umbrellas) in each park may be able to make an exception to the rule if this happens to you.
- If possible, use your Disney Genie+ reservations for more popular attractions and wait in line for the ones with less demand.
- Booking attractions every two hours is a perk of this service; plan to “stack” your return visits throughout the day to make the most of it. If you know that your attractions fill up fast in the mornings and early afternoons, you can save time by stacking them for the late afternoon and evening. Choose hours in the late afternoon and evening, for instance, when the booking window first opens in the morning. Booking additional sessions every two hours is recommended. As long as you adhere to these requirements, it is not widely known that you can hold multiple reservations in the app at once.
- In both Magic Kingdom Park and Hollywood Studios, Disney Genie+ has shown to be more helpful. Skip the Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom service if you’re trying to save money.
- If a preferred time slot for an attraction isn’t immediately bookable via the app, consider checking back; last-minute openings do occur.
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